November 2016, Day 8, Tamawashi v Kakuryu

Tamawashi fearlessly takes it to Yokozuna Kakuryu, hoping to be the one to break Kakuryu’s hold on the tournament lead. And he does a fantastic job for the first 90% of the fight, shoving the Yokozuna around the ring and controlling the fight as Kakuryu tries desperately to fend off Tamawashi’s arms. Then Kakuryu switches defensive tactics, winding up with his left arm and swinging it home for the underhand grip on the front of Tamawashi’s belt with an audible thump. And then I don’t know what happens to Tamawashi. Does he think he’s got Kakuryu right on the edge? That’s the only explanation I can think of for why he stretches out without moving his feet forward. But Kakuryu keeps his hand on the belt, leading Tamawashi forward and down as he circles safely away from the edge of the ring. Kakuryu keeps his perfect record at 8-0, one win ahead of fellow Yokozunas Harumafuji and Hakuho, and surprise M15 Ishiura. A whole bunch of contenders are just behind them at two losses. Kakuryu enters the second half of the tournament with a big target on his back – he’ll have to face the best of the best in the top division over the next seven days, starting tomorrow with Sekiwake Takayasu, who has beaten him three times their past thirteen head-to-head bouts.

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